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Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America
in this important and understudied domain affecting older adults. For example, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and Rehabilitation Research, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or the Center for Mental Health Services might be interested in supporting research focusing on vulnerable adults who are often served by the adult protective services system. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality may be interested in research on reducing elder mistreatment as a measure of quality improvements, not only in nursing homes, but also in the entire range of long-term care settings. In addition, private foundations, such as the American Health Assistance Foundation and the Andrus Foundation, which support research on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, should be encouraged to make elder mistreatment research one of their priority interests.
Within the grant review system, particularly on the federal level, but within other funding sources as well, ways need to be found to incorporate experts in elder mistreatment into the review structure on a continuing basis. Most review groups include no experts in the field of elder abuse. New fields of interest or those in early stages of scientific development, such as elder mistreatment, are probably disadvantaged in the scientific review process in comparison to mature fields, especially when the review committees are not aware of the poorly developed state of knowledge. This problem can be ameliorated by ensuring that experts in the field participate in the review of relevant applications, either as special consultants or as members of the review groups.
Persons currently doing research and practicing in the field of elder mistreatment need to disseminate the findings of their research and programmatic efforts in a more systematic and expeditious manner.
Systematic implementation of these recommendations will help establish a sound foundation for advancing knowledge on elder mistreatment. A genuine long-term commitment of resources to this important, though understudied, area will also help to recruit a new generation of scientists to the field. By the same token, however, it is clear that, in the absence of the kinds of investment recommended in this report, knowledge and understanding of elder mistreatment will remain thin, even as the population ages and the occurrence of mistreatment increases. A substantial commitment to research is needed to inform and guide a caring society as it aims to cope with the challenges ahead.